Irene Valincius

Gallery Naga

Best known for her densely layered oil-and-beeswax abstractions, Irene Valincius shows herself equally proficient with the monotype whose characteristic flatness she defies by creating lushly colored surfaces that suggest abstract watercolors. Her most lyrical and suggestive works to date, these gorgeous images concentrate on light and color. Selections from the series “Source,” 1994, “Time and Fevers,” 1993–94, and “Continuum,” 1993–94—although amorphous and replete with symbolism—are quite Minimalist in form and design. Valincius works with a limited palette of no more than four colors per image (excluding white) which she skillfully layers to achieve the resonance and luminosity that characterizes her oeuvre.

In the “Continuum” series, ovoid rings emanate from the center of the works evoking Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Composed of not-so-accidental drips of deep reds, the central oval in Continuum XXIII, 1993, assumes the shape of a bleeding head and neck; horizontal barbs of black ink are placed around the forehead to form a kind of a crown of thorns. Valincius’ “Man of Sorrows” hovers in a dark, apocalyptic landscape of vaporous purples, reds, and greens.

The “Time and Fevers” monotypes concentrate on the relationship between two central floating orbs. The title for this series is taken from W. H. Auden’s 1937 poem “Lullaby,” which weighs a moment of happiness against an awareness of all that can threaten it. The fiery disk that merges with a deep-purple circular space below in Time and Fevers II, 1993, plays on antinomies—darkness and light, hot and cold, solid and void. A creation myth is evoked by the gaseous upper orb bound to the cool surface below with veils of purple and gold shimmering with dust. The design and somber theme pay pictorial and thematic homage to William Blake’s Urizen, 1794, a hand-painted etching that establishes a link between the fall of man and creation.

The boldly colored Source VII, 1994, is dominated by two circles joined by a vulval white form surrounded by a halo. This opening becomes an eternal singular light that punctuates the surfaces of mottled reds, grays, purples, and silvers which resemble a porous membrane.

All ten monotypes are stark visual poems about generation and disintegration, chaos and order, the temporal and the eternal, the sublime and the sexual. Like her paintings, Valincius’ new works are visually beautiful while remaining speculative. Asked once what her work was all about, Valincius said, “Two things—God and lust.”

Francine Koslow Miller